The September 24, 2019 ANIMALS 24-7 article Mark Kumpf named Detroit animal control chief. Remember Klonda Richey? drew many responses, none more revealing than this one from Ed Boks, another applicant for the job, who formerly headed the animal control agencies serving Maricopa County, Arizona; New York City; and the city of Los Angeles, and most recently headed the Yavapai Humane Society, which housed impounds for Yavapai County, Arizona.
Boks has weathered many controversies, but the most significant facts about his 30-plus-year career in animal care and control are that he has managed to substantially reduce animal control killing at every stop without ever having a human fatality on his watch.
Boks learned that he would not get the Detroit job from the ANIMALS 24-7 coverage. His account of what happened with his application, and what he was told when he asked why, raises a whole string of questions about who pulled the switches behind the scenes, on what pretext.
Detroit Human Resources & Me, by Ed Boks
Detroit is my hometown, so I eagerly expressed interest in the animal control director position when it came open in May 2019. Detroit Human Resources scheduled a Skype interview for Monday, July 29, 2019. However, on July 26, three days prior to my interview, I was informed by Detroit Human Resources that they were unable to assemble an interview committee –– and they would have to cancel and reschedule my interview. The interview was never rescheduled.
Since reading your article Mark Kumpf named Detroit animal control chief. Remember Klonda Richey?, I spoke with the City of Detroit Human Resources Manager, Denise Starr; the Chief Recruitment Officer, Daryl Conrad; and Orendall Jones, an HR Assistant II –– none of whom were able to explain how this appointment occurred.
After my interview in July was “postponed”, I followed up with Orendall Jones over the next few weeks. He maintained the City of Detroit was unable to assemble all the principals for an interview. Then, on August 12, 2019, he informed me that, “i think the directors has put an stand still to the hiring for that position.” (sic)
“Candidate could be recommended by a partner organization or person with influence”
That was the last contact I had with Detroit – until I read your article.
I contacted Orendall Jones again and was told that to his knowledge I was the only person ever scheduled for an interview by Human Resources. He had no idea why my interview was abruptly cancelled and never rescheduled. He was not aware of a Mark Kumpf interview or how or why Mark Kumpf was selected. Mr. Jones seemed genuinely mystified.
So, I contacted Ms. Starr, the Human Resources Director, who said she was not part of the selection process. However, she explained that because this is an appointed position, a competitive process is not required. She said a candidate could be recommended by a partner organization or person with influence and selected for the position with no Human Resources process vetting –– and Human Resources would not be privy to any of this.
She also said that it could just as likely be that when someone involved in the selection process came across the first application to meet the requirements, they decided to hire that person.
“Handful of highly qualified candidates”
Not knowing for sure how the selection was made, Ms. Starr put me in touch with Daryl Conrad, her Chief Recruitment Officer for the City of Detroit, stating that he oversaw the entire process and could answer all my questions.
However, when asked, Mr. Conrad told me he did not know how the selection was made. He said there was a lot of turnover in this position over recent years [Detroit has now had four animal control directors in four years] and the City of Detroit was “anxious” to get it filled. He said that he “thinks” there were a handful of highly qualified candidates forwarded for consideration including me, which seems to contradict Detroit chief operating officer Mr. Hakim Berry’s assertion to the media that there was only one qualified candidate.
However, both Mr. Jones and Mr. Conrad were unable to confirm if anyone, including Mark Kumpf, was actually interviewed for the position by Human Resources. Ms. Starr assured me that there were multiple interviews and that may have included a person(s) from outside the HR process –– persons possibly recommended by a partner organization, individual(s) whom Human Resources was not aware of.
“Sometimes things happen very quickly”
Nonetheless, Mr. Conrad recalled my application was included in the forwarded batch of qualified candidates, and he recalled an interview with me had been scheduled. He was less clear about it being cancelled and had no explanation as to why it was never rescheduled as promised by Human Resources.
He said “things happen” and sometimes “things happen very quickly.”
When I told him that Ms. Starr had assured me that he could answer all my questions, because he was in charge of the hiring process, he ended the conversation by saying “we will probably never know why” my interview was cancelled and never rescheduled.
While I congratulate Mr. Kumpf on his appointment, I am puzzled by the City’s assertion that no other applicant had sufficient experience for the position. Someone in Detroit Human Resources saw my qualifications and even scheduled an interview. I am disappointed that I was not afforded the courtesy of being interviewed. For more information on my experience, visit: https://edboks.com/about/
It is possible that pending pubic information requests may shed further light on this perplexing hiring and who pulled the strings that made it happen. Thousands of Detroit animal advocates and rescuers have reportedly signed online petitions opposed to the Kumpf hiring, and a demonstration against it is scheduled for October 1, 2019.
ANIMALS 24-7 will report on significant developments.